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Hiller makes 42 saves as Ducks win 3-2 and take 2-0 series lead on Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks collectively kept their celebrations to a murmur, refusing to show any post-game excitement Sunday night except for the first career playoff goals by three of their youngest forwards.

It was a showcase of the level, veteran cool you'd expect from a team two years removed from a Stanley Cup -- even after that club just tore through the NHL's toughest road arena and took two games from the league's best regular-season team.

Andrew Ebbett broke a tie with a goal from an awkward angle with 10:16 left, and the Ducks stunned the San Jose Sharks with another defensive gem in a 3-2 victory in Game 2, jumping to a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Jonas Hiller made 42 saves in his second outstanding effort, while Bobby Ryan and Drew Miller also scored their first playoff goals. Just as their 2-0 Game 1 victory, the eighth-seeded Ducks were defensively tough and offensively fortunate against San Jose, which lost just five home games in regulation during the entire regular season.

"We knew we could play well," Hiller said. "But to come into the rink of the best team in the league and win the first two games, we don't expect that, although we have to think it's possible. ... I'm sure this is not what people expected from us. We have the two wins, but the Sharks are still the best team this year."

Ryane Clowe's goal early in the second period ended more than 174 minutes of scoreless playoff hockey for the Sharks dating to last season, but San Jose couldn't rally despite another monstrous edge in shots.

An eighth seed has beaten a top seed seven times in the NHL playoffs since 1994, and playoff-tested Anaheim is ripe to add its name to the list. San Jose must win four of the next five games, including two in Anaheim, to avoid what would be a disastrous end to a 117-point season capped by the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy.

"I'm not too sure that the guys in there, after the two games, I think if you went through and asked each of the guys, they'd think they're the better team," said Todd McLellan, the Sharks' rookie coach. "They're not getting the puck luck, and you have to give Anaheim credit. They found a way to win."

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Anaheim.

Jonathan Cheechoo also scored, and Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves for the Sharks, who outshot Anaheim 44-26 after a 35-17 edge in the Ducks' 2-0 Game 1 victory -- but San Jose dropped to 0-for-12 on the power play in the series after going scoreless in six chances in Game 2.

Although an NHL playoff neophyte, Hiller again showed off the resilience he learned as a star in the top Swiss league and the world championships. Yet the rest of the Ducks know about playoff toughness from experiences the Sharks just can't duplicate in the regular season.

"I don't think that we recognize the pressure, as much as you guys seem to want to put that exclamation mark on it," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "(Hiller) played in some real intense games for us down the stretch. He's a veteran guy from the Swiss league and world championships. He knows what pressure is about. What he's got to do is just do his job. He doesn't have to win the hockey game for us. He's just got to give us a chance."

The Sharks' frustration only was heightened in the third period when the Ducks scored on Ebbett's fortunate deflection and Miller's rebound shot through traffic in a 3 1/2-minute span, while San Jose managed only Cheechoo's goal with 6:06 left.

McLellan broke up his top-line pairing of Joe Thornton and captain Patrick Marleau for Game 2, moving around his top two scorers but rarely icing them together. It didn't generate much new offence, but Clowe came through after a turnover by Ebbett, slipping the puck past three defenders to snap the Sharks' playoff scoreless streak at 174 minutes two seconds, dating to their four-overtime elimination loss to Dallas last spring.

"I don't feel a lot of panic around here, that's for sure," Clowe said. "We're going to go on the road, and maybe we'll be a little more relaxed. We'll probably get some of those bounces. That's the way it goes sometimes in a long series. I thought we worked hard enough to get some bounces, but obviously we were hitting posts like there's no tomorrow. That's the playoffs."

In the third period, Ebbett deflected the puck off the back of Nabokov's pad from near the goal line on a play set up by the speed of Teemu Selanne, who slipped behind the San Jose defence and fired the puck on net to set the sequence in motion.

Miller then put the Ducks up 3-1 on a rebound goal with 6:43 to play, but Cheechoo reduced the deficit 37 seconds later by barging past two defenders for a score. The Sharks kept pushing, and Christian Ehrhoff hit the post with 2:10 to play -- but Anaheim controlled the puck for much of the final minute, preventing the Sharks from threatening.

"It's not like we've been spanked and we've got our tail between our legs," McLellan said. "We play the same way, do the same things, create the same number of chances, eventually it'll go in for us, and we'll continue on."

Notes: Claude Lemieux participated in his first NHL playoff game in six years when the Sharks scratched enforcer Jody Shelley and inserted Lemieux on their fourth line. The 43-year-old four-time Stanley Cup winner had one assist in 18 regular-season games for the Sharks after his comeback from a 5 1/2-year retirement. ... San Jose had a 17-3 shot advantage in the second period. ... Eighth-seeded Edmonton beat Detroit in 2006, then went on to knock off fifth-seeded San Jose on the way to the Stanley Cup finals.


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